Old Town Mill Closed Indefinitely, Employees Furloughed 

The Old Town mill will be closing its doors–again, effective immediately.

About 180 workers are now out of work.

“I just heard about it from my nephew meeting me here for lunch. I had no idea, I guess it was a quick thing all at once. They told him last night that the mill was shutting down and that was it,” said Skip Hussey of Alton, whose nephew was furloughed.

Operations at Old Town Fuel and Fiber will be indefinitely suspended, effective immediately.

A statement from the company reads in part, quote, “employees not needed for securing the facility will be furloughed. During this idled period ownership will be pursuing options to secure the long term viability of the facility.”

“It’s a difficult market right now. The amount that’s available to the market is limited and that makes the prices higher here. There’s a lot of competition worldwide with new sources of pulp coming from areas with warmer climates,” said John Williams, president of the Maine Pulp and Paper Association.

Most workers found out about the closure late Wednesday.

This mill has been here for more than 100 years, although it’s changed hands a number of times. The most recent owners took it over back in 2008. People around town say this news is a big blow to the local community.

“It’s another bust for the town. I mean it’s happened again and again and again. I’ve had one person in this morning that lost his job, found out yesterday. He actually said, no surprise, we knew it was coming. It wasn’t a matter of if, it was more when,” said Donnie Sparkman, who runs Gus’s Barber Shop in town.

Area business owners are worried about the ripple effect.

“We’re the only barbershop in town. We get kind of the heartbeat of what’s going on. We notice it–when people are leaving we’re losing customers,” said Sparkman.

Derek Boyington, who works at Tim’s Little Big Store, says he’s concerned the closure might affect business.

“I mean, hopefully it doesn’t get worse, but unfortunately, probably it will get worse before it gets better,” said Boyington.

Locals say this latest closure just adds insult to injury for a community that’s already struggling.

“A lot of people are going to be out of a job again. It’s not going to help the state, that’s for sure,” said Old Town resident Desaraye McCue.

‘When these mills shut down, whether it’s Millinocket, Old Town, it’s hard for them to rebound with the financial situation. They don’t ever seem to make it for some reason,” said Hussey.

And whether a new owner will come along and revive this mill, seems like anyone’s guess.

“Will it pick itself up? Only time will tell. It’s going to be a sit and wait and see what happens kind of thing,” said Sparkman.